Carmen Sweet Pepper Recipes


Carmen sweet peppers recipes are not spicy hot, they are very mild in taste. Therefore Carmen peppers can be used in any recipe where a little extra flavor will enhance the meal. Carmen sweet pepper is good for preparing as an ingredient to your favorite curry dish, or to add a touch of spice to your pasta sauce.

Grilled Italian Sweet Peppers

These grilled Italian sweet peppers are easy to prepare. They make a great side dish or a delicious addition to a steak sandwich or antipasto dish.

We used Carmen sweet peppers for this recipe but you can use bell peppers if you can’t find these long, horn-shaped peppers.

A serving plate filled with grilled Italian sweet peppers.

I saw a display of these beautiful, red peppers in the produce section of Central Market. The sign said they were ‘grilling peppers’ and as I had never seen any like this before I bought several to try out.   I asked the produce man what kind of peppers they were and he told me they were Sweet Italian Peppers or Carmen peppers.   

We had planned on having a cook-out the next evening with some guests and I included these on the menu.  I love the shape of these sweet peppers. They look exactly like giant chili peppers but they have a mild, sweet taste and they are soooo good grilled!   The dark char from the grill gives them extra flavor. They were a big hit with our dinner guests.

How to Grill Italian Sweet Peppers:

Carmen peppers in a dish just before being grilled.

I coated them in some olive oil then put them on a medium-hot charcoal grill. I let them cook over the coals until they became all blistery and charred.  

They were served hot off the grill for dinner and so delicious I could have just made a meal of them and nothing else.  Personally, I like the taste of the charred skin but for anyone that doesn’t, the skin slips off so easy leaving a moist, silky deliciousness.  

You Can Also Cook Them in the Oven:

These peppers are really easy to prepare and you can roast them in the oven as well as grilling them.  If you want to use the oven then turn the broiler to high and stick them on a roasting pan. Place them under the broiler and turn them every couple of minutes until they puff up and get black char marks.

Carmen Italian sweet peppers on a hot grill.

Preserving Sweet Italian Peppers:

If you make extra peppers, you can keep them for several weeks if you put them in a brine.

With the remaining peppers, I grilled them then stuffed them into a jar with brine.  They are sitting in my refrigerator and will keep for a couple of weeks unless we devour them right away.

A few days after our cook-out, I was back in that produce area again and bought more of these wonders.  

I grilled up another batch and when they were cool I put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and froze them.   After they were frozen solid I vacuum-sealed them and returned them to the freezer.  

How to Use Grilled Carmen Italian Sweet Peppers:

You can eat these grilled sweet peppers au naturale or you can add them to other recipes. Add them while cold to our chipotle chicken pasta salad or toss them into a hot pasta dish like our Spanish chorizo and shrimp pasta. The possibilities are endless. Here are some other ideas:

  • Toss them in salads
  • Layer them in sandwiches like our pulled pork sandwich.
  • Add them to quiche or frittatas. They would be great in our sweet onion quiche or our sweet potato frittata.

Make a quick pasta dinner:

  1. Cook some pasta according to the package directions.
  2. Slice and eggplant and toss the slices on the grill along with these sweet Italian peppers.
  3. Add some Italian sausages to the grill.
  4. When everything has a nice char on them, give them a rough chop and toss them in a bowl with the cooked pasta.
Two grilled sweet peppers on a plate with a serving platter in the background.

When to Pick Carmen Italian Sweet Peppers:

If you grow your own Italian sweet peppers then wait until they turn a bright red before you pick them. You can still eat them while they are green but they are much sweeter if you wait until they turn red.

Grilled Italian Sweet Peppers

yield: 1 PINT

prep time: 10 MINUTES

cook time: 1 HOUR

total time: 1 HOUR 10 MINUTES

Grilled Italian Sweet Peppers make an amazing side dish or you can add them to other recipes for a sweet, smokey flavor. You can eat them right after they get grilled or preserve them in a brine solution and they will keep for weeks.

This recipe shows you how to preserve them whole in vinegar-based brine. These smoky tasting peppers are a great addition to a pasta recipe or included in an appetizer plate.


  • 1 pound Sweet Italian Peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Prepare the grill and while it is getting hot, rinse the peppers with cold water and wipe them dry with a paper towel, then brush them with the olive oil.
  2. In a small sauce pan, add the vinegar, water and salt and bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer.
  3. Add one pint jar to a sauce pan of water and bring to a boil to sterilize it, reduce the heat to simmer and add the lid and screw band. Keep in the simmering water until needed.
  4. When the grill is ready at medium-hot, arrange the peppers and allow them to get slightly charred and blistery, turning them as needed. Remove them from the grill and reserve.
  5. With a jar lifter or tongs, carefully remove the sterilized jar from the boiling water and add the peppers to about one inch from the top of the jar. Add the vinegar, water and salt mixture to cover the peppers. Insert a table knife inside the jar between the jar and the peppers and run it all around the inside of the jar to release any air bubbles. Press down on the peppers, add more brine solution if needed to cover the peppers. There should be at least 1/2-inch of headspace between the peppers and the rim of the jar.
  6. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel, add the lid and screw band. Allow the jar of peppers to cool then keep them refrigerated.
  7. When removing peppers from the jar, keep any remaining peppers covered with water.

Roasted Carmen Pepper Pimento Grilled Cheese With Sweet Onions & Apple Butter


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Serves: 4

Anyone who’s been to Casetta on the square knows that those folks know how to make a mean sandwich. Take your grilled cheese game to the next level with this delectable recipe from co-proprietor Tommy Gering.

Carmen peppers come into season during late summer and hang around through fall. They are a thin-skinned Italian sweet pepper. They have a wonderful edible skin so you can roast them without taking the time to peel them. Don’t have carmen peppers? Substitute pimento or red bell peppers.


6 Tbsp softened butter, divided

1 whole white or yellow onion, thinly sliced



4 carmen red peppers, seeded, cut into strips

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp neutral oil, like vegetable or sunflower

½ cup mayonnaise

1 cup Hook’s 1-year cheddar, grated

½ cup low moisture mozzarella, grated

3 Tbsp pickled hot peppers, chopped

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

8 pieces white bread

Apple butter



Preheat the oven to 450°F.


Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium low heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook slowly until the onion is very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. We are not looking for any color—just cook until the onion starts to melt and the juices form a nice sauce with the butter.


While the onion cooks, toss the peppers and garlic with the oregano and oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the peppers start to char and the skin blisters, 10 to 15 minutes.


To make the pimento cheese-inspired filling, let the peppers cool and then chop them up into small pieces. Return them to the bowl you prepared them in. Add mayonnaise, cheddar, mozzarella, pickled hot peppers, and mustard. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.


To assemble the sandwiches, spread the remaining butter on the outside of each piece of bread. Lay the bread butter side down on a baking sheet. On four of the pieces of bread, spread the apple butter and a spoonful of the onions. Finish with a scoop of the cheese and pepper sandwich filling. Top with the other slice of bread, butter side facing out.


In a large non-stick pan, grill the sandwiches over medium heat until they are golden brown on the outside and the cheese is hot and melted on the inside, flipping halfway through.


Let rest briefly before slicing and serving.

Carmen Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are Carmen peppers?

The Carmen pepper is the epitome of why you shouldn’t judge a pepper by its shape. It looks like a jumbo hot pepper – with its curved horn-like shape and tapering body. But underneath these hot looks, there’s no heat to this Italian pepper (0 Scoville heat units). In fact, it’s a sweet pepper with big flavor and lots of use cases. Carmen peppers have a robust sweetness even when young on the vine, and their wide cavity and thicker walls make them very versatile in the kitchen – from stuffing to roasting and grilling. The Carmen pepper really does it all – which is why it’s an All-America Selections (AAS) winning plant.

Carmen pepper fast facts

  • Scoville heat units (SHU): 0 SHU
  • Median heat: 0 SHU
  • Origin: Italy
  • Capsicum species: Annuum
  • Jalapeño reference scale: 2,500 to 8,000 times milder
  • Use: Culinary
  • Size: Approximately 5 to 6 inches long, tapered
  • Flavor: Sweet

How hot are Carmen Peppers?

It’s easy to see why people expect some heat from the Carmen. They don’t look like a typical sweet pepper. Most people think “bell pepper” shape for sweet peppers, but the Carmen pepper (known as Corno di Toro in Italy, translating to “horn of the bull”) looks more like the big and spicy cowhorn pepper than the bell. There’s zero heat here for all the machismo of this pepper’s shape. So compared to our jalapeño reference point, the Carmen pepper is 2,500 to 8,000 times milder than a jalapeño.

What do they look like and taste like?

Carmen peppers grow to five to six inches long, with a wide body that tapers to a point. The pepper’s cavity is broad and the walls are decently thick (which gives them lots of culinary uses). They age from green to red, the typical pepper pattern for maturation while on the vine.

There’s a flavorful sweetness here – more than a red bell. And interestingly, this pepper starts green with a lot of that sweetness in place. Other sweet peppers (like the bell) tend to be more bright and grassy in their green state than sweet. Still, the Carmen pepper is typically best when allowed to mature to its full red state on the vine.

How can you use them?

If you’re looking for a unique bell pepper alternative, this is a serious contender. Like the bell, it’s very versatile, in the kitchen. Its wide cavity and relatively thick walls make it a great stuffing pepper for all sorts of recipes. Those thick walls, too, mean the Carmen pepper will hold up to roasting and grilling (and the sweetness of this chili tastes great with smoky BBQ). It’s just as tasty chopped for salads, sliced for sandwiches, or diced for soups. They’re also delicious raw, so try them as a side for dips.

Salsas, though, may be our favorite option here, especially fruitier salsas. The sweetness of the Carmen really complements fruit flavors, whether tropical fruit salsas or something more unique (blueberry salsas, apple-based salsas, etc…)

Where can you buy Carmen peppers?

You may find this pepper in grocery stores, though you’re more likely to come across them in farmer’s markets and Italian specialty shops. They are a very popular for everyday gardening, so picking up Carmen pepper seeds is easy to do online, as well as in gardening centers. If you want a a step away from the normal bell pepper in the garden for something with a little more visual attitude, you can’t go wrong here. It’s a big beauty of a pepper with a ton of flavor.

Here’s a fun growing fact…

If you do decide to grow the Carmen, know that they tend to mature faster than other sweet peppers. They reach full maturity in 75 days (1 week to 2 weeks quicker than other options), which for those who live in shorter growing cycle climates (too cold, not enough sun late in the summer) make the Carmen a particularly useful pepper in the garden.

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